The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show highlights a troubling is connected with the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov strolled into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s campaigns. Garmented in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a coinciding coat, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal bodyguards– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of storying an assassination– as he made his mode to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s fightings in an entirely new located. Though used to attending mixed martial art events on a near-weekly basis in his native Chechnya, this was the first time that Kadyrov was present at a Ultimate Fighting Championship show.

Given Kadyrov’s well-documented human rights abuses- the latest of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ parties within Chechnya resulting in torture and summary executions – his presence in the front row of a UFC event spotlights a concerning is connected with the oppressor and the world’s largest MMA promotion.

Kadyrov’s decision to attend the UFC’s first ever show in Moscow is due to the presence of Magomed Ankhalaev, a UFC light heavyweight prospect from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s contend sorority, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev overcame Marcin Prachnio by head-kick knockout in the opening round. During his post-fight interview in the octagon, Ankalaev thanked Kadyrov for his support and finished off with Kadyrov’s now-infamous slogans “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA campaign organization consists of an MMA promotion and several discipline facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet regimes. The push team is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and suffers the refer of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that encompas medical expenditures, educate costs, and traveling fees. Depending on high levels of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive gondolas and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA pushed golf-club is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful souls in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly pushed in the Chechen crusades against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being heightened to commander of the Chechnya’s Special Forces, the’ Terek’ Chechen SWAT unit, as well as Kadyrov’s private security detail. Kadyrov’s decision to place one of his most influential protection people in charge of his MMA promotion and battle sorority is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and aid, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of greater MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The oppose guild has signed various remarkable boxers from other MMA organizations and has situated its promotional might and resources behind them. Five of these combats have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those soldiers remain under contract with the UFC, despite the undeniable link between them and Kadyrov, while Edilov- who reportedly threatened an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly secreted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC crusades have established relationships with Kadyrov. For lesson, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” transaction to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA crusaded society. He, very, was gifted an expensive car for his services to the authoritarian, though has now been deleted the video of the car from social media.

Kadyrov’s photo-op with Mohamed Salah during the 2018 World cup finals was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov utilizes athletics to enhance his religion of temperament and bolster his reputation as a benevolent ruler who enjoys athletics. Following the completion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that held the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its ended allegiance to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to strength seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for alteration into his own personal fiefdom. As an expression of the results of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairperson Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has ruled over his parties with an iron fist. He has also been able to use sports like MMA and soccer to further cement his reign.

For example, during the 2018 World cup finals, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national unit and posed with hotshot striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large mob at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov met the photo-op as the opportunity to rub shoulders with arguably the most popular Muslim athlete in countries around the world, the information was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with personalities and noticeable contestants. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC soldiers such as former endorses Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By associating with famous celebrities and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal portrait as the embodiment of Chechen principles and manlines. This use of soft superpower facilitates maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the controversy circumventing the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the advertising has chosen to remain silent regarding this potential public relations nightmare. As of the time of reporting, the UFC has not responded to the Guardian’s is asking for explain. It should also be noted that the only day that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were consorting with a vicious dictator was in 2015, soon after Werdum admitted his role as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA pushed club.

” It is important to note that UFC fighters operate as independent business partners , not employees, and that subject to their contractual commitments to UFC they are free to conduct business and to participate in activities as they elect ,” the UFC said in a statement to Sports on Earth.” We do expect, however, all boxers to be mindful that their actions manifest well on themselves, the boast and the UFC formation .”

According to a source close to the phenomenon, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. However, while the source went on to add that the advertisement tackle included security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the realm, the UFC’s continued stillnes on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.


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